Jacob Chi, managing member of Chi Restaurant Group, shares the upcoming addition of Chi’s Baohouse, a new, fast-casual concept for the group. The first location at 12210 W. Markham in Little Rock (formerly La Madeleine) is expected to open in February or March 2022.
“My parents are the inspiration behind the effort to create Chi’s Baohouse. They grew up in Taiwan. During the holidays and on special occasions, my family would prepare many of the dishes offered on the menu at Chi’s Baohouse. The majority of the menu items are popular amongst Chinese families living in Taiwan. As a family, we’ve not ventured into serving many of these items in large volume because of the amount of time that is involved in preparing them,” says Jacob Chi. “However, our team has been working on developing more efficient food production methods while maintaining our high-quality standards. These improvements to our operation methodology have allowed us to bring these once difficult to serve dishes to the masses. As my parents have insisted over the years, we only serve the best or we don’t serve it at all. I think we’ve figured out how to create a menu that honors our favorite dishes while being able to quickly and efficiently share them with our customers for many years to come. Our team is quite proud of these efforts in doing what my parents felt would not be possible.”
As for the menu, it will essentially consist of dim sum, noodle soup, a full bubble tea/boba selection and signature Taiwanese baos.
“Our family has served an extensive dim sum menu over the years. Dim sum dishes are appetizer- or tapas-sized portions of dumplings, buns and other items which are traditionally eaten at breakfast or brunch,” Chi says.
Chi’s Baohouse will be serving their best-selling dim sum items throughout the entire day. And as for some of the other options?
“Our noodle soups are based on my mother’s recipes, and we’re excited to share them with our customers. Boba or bubble tea has become a popular drink in Central Arkansas and we’re presenting our version of a light, refreshing drink menu with exciting flavors and popping or tapioca boba,” Chi says.
Then there’s the signature Taiwanese baos — fluffy lotus leaf buns filled with various proteins, flavors and fresh ingredients.
“These are all items our family has grown up making and serving as part of our heritage,” he says. “Our team is very excited to put all of these elements that are often difficult to find together in one place.”
Chi says Chi’s Baohouse will be a “polished fast-casual” experience. If you’re wondering, there is already a second spot in the works.
“We are developing a second location for Chi’s Baohouse in Rogers,” Chi says. “I would say to reasonably expect this location to open approximately four to six months after our west Little Rock location. Additional store locations are being planned for downtown Little Rock, as well as Fayetteville.”
Chi is certainly pumped about this latest venture.
“Our family and our team are very excited about being able to provide another opportunity for families to gather and celebrate,” he says. “For many of our customers who grew up with this style of food, we hope Chi’s Baohouse does for them what it does for us, and that is to provide memories. I remember waking up to smelling my mother’s beef noodle soup being cooked on the stove and hearing my father working the rolling pin while making dumplings. I remember walking down the street from my grandparent’s home in Taipei to grab bubble tea from the shop on the corner. Later in the day, we’d pick up baos from another neighborhood restaurant. From our family to yours, we share our passion for good food and great times.”
Cheers to that.